My submission for Harlequin’s Challenge

Words to live by
973 words

As Meggan sank into her seat a loud sigh escaped her lips. She hadn’t even noticed it until a frail voice brought her out of the trance that held her captive.
“Are you alright, dear?” The voice asked her.
Meggan looked up from her purple Rhinestone encrusted cellphone with a, “Huh?”
“You seem distraught about something. Can I help?” The woman facing her asked with concern washing over her face.
“Who was this woman?” Meggan thought to herself. “Distraught! She thought only her English teacher talked like that.
“I, ahh, I’m fine.” Meggan relayed, using every bit of restraint not to roll her eyes.
“What is your name, dear?” The woman asked with a pleasant smile. Something in that smile began to set Meggan at ease.
She hadn’t felt at ease for three days and her hasty exit didn’t help. The time passed so quickly. She had a ticket and appointments at the college and her roommate would be expecting her. Though dread hung over her, she knew she had to leave.
“My name’s Meggan. Meggan Callahan.” She sighed again wondering if she should move to a more private spot.
“I’m Mrs. Helmsworth,” The woman said leaning forward, patting Meggan’s hand, “I’m on my way to visit my grandchildren in New Hampshire. I haven’t traveled anywhere since my beloved Gerald passed away. It’s been two years already.” She said in the frail voice.
“Why does she keep saying, dear?” Meggan wondered to herself. “She doesn’t even know me. Was this woman going to keep talking the whole trip? Just her luck. First the stress of leaving, then the text and now this woman who wanted to tell her a life story she had no interest in hearing. Great!” Meggan complained inwardly as she threw her hands in the air.
The woman hadn’t noticed Meggan’s frustration and kept speaking. “When I was a girl I traveled all over. I went to college out East you know. I traveled to California to visit my girlfriend’s family. I met my Gerald traveling to Florida for spring break.” The woman said with a smile that lit up her entire face. The memory obviously brought her great joy.
“Was she for real? Spring break? Did they have that when she was in school?” Meggan thought growing more impatient by the minute. She was contemplating moving to another seat when the woman continued, again.
“My Gerald was a real gentleman. He was so handsome in his green Army dress uniform. We had only three short days on the beach before he had to fly out, but it was enough to know who I would spend my life with. It seems like yesterday.” Mrs. Helmsworth looked lost in her own thoughts.
Meggan could not believe what she just heard. “Three days and this woman knew who she would spend her life with? Two years and a whole summer hadn’t brought her that kind of confidence. She thought maybe she knew, but she was obviously wrong.” She agonized internally.
Before she could help it she looked up to listen more intently. The older woman seemed pleased to have her attention and continued.
“You know the war was almost over at that time. My Gerald was a hero. He was injured and they wanted him in Washington to give his accounts of the attack. That’s why our time was cut short.” She sniffed and Meggan reached into her purse.
The woman seemed visibly upset and Meggan moved forward to offer a tissue. She could hardly believe she was doing it, but the woman’s story and emotion grabbed her and held on.
“He promised he would find me when he returned.” she continued.
“And he did?” Meggan surprised herself and Mrs. Helsmworth who now held her gaze. It was the first time Meggan had spoken during the story.
“Well of course he did,” Mrs. Helmsworth stated. “We were married for 65 wonderful years until he went home to our Lord. My love for him is as real now as it was all those years ago.”
“How could you know after 3 days that you loved him and that it would last?” Meggan let the question fall like a bomb.
“Things were simpler then, dear. The distractions were few. We were looking for a life companion,” she stated sweetly. “And we trusted God had a plan for us.”
“Well I thought I had it all figured out. 2 years I was patient with Billy. He told me over and over that we would be together forever even though all he wanted to do was party and run around. He never took anything seriously. And then I told him I was going to school in Michigan.” Meggan drew in a long breath and shook her head.
Mrs. Helmsworth remained quiet.
Meggan continued, “Michigan has an excellent engineering program. And I want to be an engineer! He can’t understand that. I got a text,” She held up her phone, “he said he couldn’t wait for me. He was ready to move on.” It spilled out before she had a chance to stop it. A tear fell from Meggan’s cheek and it was Mrs. Helmsworth’s turn to offer a tissue.
“I am sorry, dear. I wish it had ended differently for you. Even though it’s difficult we have to remember, above all else, that God does have a plan for our lives. You won’t know what it is, but it will be the perfect plan for you. You can count on that.” She smiled and sat her hands in her lap.
The older woman across the row from Meggan sat her head back and closed her eyes.
“The rocking of this train sure is relaxing. I had better rest a spell,” Mrs. Helmsworth said, “I have a long journey ahead of me. And so do you dear.”

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